April 17, 2023
An enraged mob on the night of April 16 destroyed the minarets and dome of an Ahmadiyya place of worship in Ghughiat, Sargodha.
A spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya community stated that the attack on the nearly 120-year-old religious site occurred in the presence of the police, causing great concern among the peaceful Ahmadiyya community who have faced persecution for some time now.
The community has termed the desecration of their worship place in full view of law enforcement agencies a violation of the Constitution of Pakistan, as well as a 2014 judgement penned by Justice Tasadduq Hussain Jilani which declared that attacking and demolishing Ahmadiyya worship places by mobs and government officials is against the law and should be stopped immediately.
The persecution of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, particularly in the Punjab Province, has been on the rise in recent years.
In the first four months of 2023, at least 10 incidents of violence were reported against the Ahmadiyya community, including vandalising the places of worship and desecration of Ahmadi graves under the supervision of the police.
A spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya community has expressed deep concern about the safety of their places of worship and their lives. He has demanded that the government must take immediate action to ensure that the Ahmadiyya community is protected and their religious freedoms are respected.
According to the annual report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in 2021, there have been numerous reports of attacks on Ahmadiyya places of worship in Pakistan since 1974 when Pakistan’s Constitution was amended to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslims.
In 1984, former military dictator General Zia ul Haq promulgated a Presidential Ordinance known as the Anti-Islamic Activities of Qadiani Group, Lahore Group and Ahmadis (Prohibition and Punishment) Ordinance 1984, through which a few clauses were added to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) barring members of the Ahmadiyya community from the usage of epithets, descriptions and titles reserved for certain holy persons.
Section 298-C of the PPC prohibits them to call or refer to their faith as ‘Islam’, or preach or propagate their faith. Violating these sections is an offence punishable with a fine and imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years. According to the Ahamdiyya community, at least 30 places of worship have been demolished and many vandalized since 1984 while 42 Ahmadi bodies were exhumed after burial.